An update on the bench and the bullpen: Botts, Tejeda secure spots?

Good game for the Rangers today against the Mariners in Peoria. The offense, which looked catatonic in last nights 4-1 loss to the Angels, woke up and hammered out 18 hits for an 8-5 victory over Seattle.

Michael Young and Ian Kinsler each went 3-3, and Hank Blalock, Jason Botts and Kevin Mench all registered 2 hits, Botts also driving in three runs. In fact, every starter in the lineup had a hit except for – guess who – everyone’s favorite offensive catcher, Gerald Laird, who was 0-4. Get used to seeing that from Gerry – now that he’s sewn up the catchers job, it’s about time for him to return to his old chop-bunting self.

Now that my obligatory jab at Laird is out of the way, back to the good stuff.

Jason_botts_2_1 Jason Botts apparently turned some heads with those three RBI’s today – he impressed Dallas Morning News witer Evan Grant, at the very least. In his latest blog entry, Grant says "Trust me on this: Jason Botts made the club saturday". He says that the Rangers saw what they have "been waiting to see all spring", and that’s Botts driving in runs.

Not that this is official, of course, but that’s good news, both for Jason and the organization. I still think Botts has the potential to hit, I’m just not sure how much of a real chance the Rangers will give him, however. Remember, even though he seems to have made the team, he still has to compete with Frank Catalanotto, David Murphy, Marlon Byrd and Milton Bradley for playing time – and based on what Ron Washington’s preferences are, I’d say Jason is likely going to end up on the bottom of that totem pole.

Wash thinks Ben Broussard can play full-time at first base without the need of a platoon partner, so Botts probably won’t see much time there, and Milton Bradley is likely to be the DH for the first week or two. That’ll leave Botts scrapping with Murphy and Catalanotto for playing time in left field – and since his OF defense is, shall we say, less than special, it’s likely he won’t get a whole lot of time there, either. Not to crush all the optimisim of Botts making the team – I’m just as excited as anyone – but that’s only going to be half the battle for him.

This is one of those times I can’t help but think if the 33 year-old Frank Catalanotto (who hit a career-low .260 last year, and is hitting a ******** .207 this spring) wasn’t on the roster, things would be much less complicated – not to mention the fact that we would have a much more athletic and versatile bench without him. Robbie_tejeda_delivers_1

Moving on to a few notes about the bullpen now, it seems that the Rangers do indeed want to keep Robinson Tejeda, despite my supposition yesterday that his less-than-impressive performance versus the Angels may have swayed the Ranger management against him. According to TR Sullivan, the Rangers still really like his arm, and don’t want to lose him to waivers. I wasn’t partucularly impressed yesterday by the fact that he still obviously has problems with his control, but I agree, you don’t want to lose a guy who throws consistently mid-90’s if there is any possibility at all he can be an asset.

TR also mentions that while Franklyn German has the inside track for the second bullpen spot, although Sidney Ponson and Elizardo Ramirez have been sent to the minors. Based on the indication TR is giving us, it looks like a two horse race between German and Littleton for that second bullpen spot, which likely leaves Kam Loe, Frank Francisco and Josh Rupe on the outside looking in.

Each one has their advantages, as German was recently praised by pitching coach Mark Connor as being the hardest thrower and having the best split-finger in camp. But he is not on the 40 man roster, and Littleton is, so once again, the roster situation could turn out to be the deciding factor here.

Final note for the night: I really don’t like the way the Rangers official website was recently redesigned. The new look is messy, crowded, and just plain ugly – and unfortunately, it’s the template for all 30 major league teams now, not just the Rangers. So to whomever came up with this new design, I implore you to at least reorganize the page to make it a little cleaner, and easier to read. Otherwise I garuntee you I will be spending much less time there.

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4 comments

  1. jmatschulat@mvn.com

    Thanks for the update, Jon – missed the game today thanks to my thankless job in the service industry, and it’s nice to get a different perspective from the local beat writers now and then.

    Indeed, the new Rangers homepage is a mess – just popped over there now. They’re trying to jam way too much into a limited space; that awful Staples/Dell flash ad that’s appearing everywhere is incredibly annoying, as well.

  2. Jon

    Yeah, I missed much of the game myself – I wanted to see Hurley pitch badly, but other obligations got in the way, and I didn’t tune in till long after Hurley had left the mound. I didn’t miss much though, since Hurley kind of got hammered, so maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t catch him on one of his bad days.

    As for the Rangers website, I’m not seeing any staples/Dell flash ad, my browser must be blocking that, but it’s bad enough as it is. I don’t know how they expect folks to even consider that page useful – it looks tacky, and nothing on there is even lined up.

    What it actually reminds me of is an overstuffed bulletin board – not that I have much of a voice here, but I’m hoping somebody might read this and grow a brain – at least make the page readable, for pete’s sake.

  3. Craig

    I love your blog and look forward to reading more. Tough luck for Kameron and the other relievers looking in from the outside. All of them have thier good and bad points. It will, as you say boil down to who has options and can be sent down. As for the Ranger game in peoria. We were there and it was a great one to watch. Hurley did not look good at all in the first inning but he really pulled it together his final four innings. It was good to see him rebound after such a poor start to the game and put a good performance afterward. All in all, it was not a bad day for Hurley. He rebounded well after a rough start. CJ and Benoit were awesome. CJ could have easily gone 1-2-3 in his inning. The one hit was more due to the defense. Young was out of the game by then and I do not remember who the shortstop was. Get used to the web site people. They are all run by MLB and what you see is what you get. Rangers have to clear everything that goes up on the site and MLB has made all the sites the same. I am surprised that MLB has not made all the teams use the same ticketing agent for ticket sales yet. Get ready for that one.

  4. Jon

    Thanks for stopping by Craig, glad you like the blog.

    And thanks for the insight on Hurley’s performance – my thought is, him starting the year in AAA is the best thing to do. Once he gets called up, I want him to be ready to stick in the rotation.

    I just put your site up on the sidebar – hope you’ll do the same for me?

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